top of page

Addiction and Relationships: 5 Simple Examples Of How To Do The Work

Updated: Jan 24

5 simple examples of how to do the work

“Without labor nothing prospers”-Sophocles

What exactly does “doing the work” mean? I feel like I mention this phrase a lot in my writings and posts, but what does it mean beyond that? Basically, it’s identifying your faults, and finding ways that work for you to help them. Kind of like the 12 steps, where you take an inventory of yourself and accept what you need to in order to change how you react to life.

Is it fun? Not always. I mean, sure, sometimes I am really inspired and excited to adapt to my life and become a better person. But let's be honest, sometimes it just plain sucks. Who wants to bring all their negative traits to the surface? And like I've brought up before, aren't our partners the ones who need to change?

Yes, and no. We don't need to focus on what they're doing. The only ones we need to focus on are ourselves because, after all, we are the only ones that can be truly changed by us.

Luckily there are many ways to do that.

The thing is, though, that not all of the methods you hear about will work for you. And that’s ok. Plus, what works now might not work for the long term and vice versa. You need to find what works for you right now and go from there.

Take journaling.

At one point in my life I hated it. My hand got tired, my mind was going a mile a minute and my hand couldn’t keep up, and I didn’t like that I had to do it every day. Who has time for that? But then, as time passed I decided to pick up a pen and a pretty notebook I found on sale at Ross and it actually felt therapeutic to write down the day’s events and how I felt about them. And then I started hating it again.

Currently, I write here to help me process the things that are happening, but I also have a sponsor and a therapist that I talk to, and to be honest, a lot of the work I need to do now is simply through action because it’s stuff that keeps happening and presenting itself in different ways while being the same core issue. I’ve already processed most of what I experience through my mind and the filter of those who can help me, and what’s left is to perform the actions needed to produce a different outcome.

I’ll give an example:

I have an iPhone, and therefore I have an Apple ID which is then attached to a family plan. So, if allowed by the other person, I can see if their phone is online, where they are, if their battery is low, etc. While I’ve never had a “tracker” put in place on my partner’s phone, this actually worked instead, and probably wasn’t the best help for me in the long run.

Another feature of iPhones is the ability to see (and have sent from your phone) when your message was read by the other person.

My partner had both of these features set up to allow me to see it for a long time, and only during the past episodes of active using were they turned off because he was hiding something.

Now, he has a new phone through his work, but is still hooked up through the family plan so that I am able to see where he is, and if he’s read my messages.

Until last week.

I don’t know what happened, why it happened, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. But that didn’t change the fact that I didn’t like it.

What is he doing?

Why did he turn it off?

What is he hiding?

I would like to say I didn’t bring it up to him or accidentally start an argument, but let’s face it, I’m here to be honest so I have to admit that yes, I did.

But how do I fix it?

Of course I could bring out the journal and write about what I did and why it makes me uncomfortable. And of course you know I’m here writing about it. But for me, in this situation at least, I have to put some things into action.

The action here is to constantly remind myself that everything is fine. He’s doing what he needs to be, it could have been an accident, any number of possibilities are at work here.

And if things weren’t fine, the GPS location of where he is is irrelevant. The only thing that location sharing and read receipts provide is a false sense of security and a distraction from what needs to be done by me.

Sure, I can bring it up to voice my concerns and share my feelings, but I noticed that he ends up getting upset because I am indirectly being accusatory and untrusting when he really didn’t do anything to deserve it. Is he still doing what he needs to be? Communicating, showing up, being present, acting normally?

And that was another thing I worked on with my therapist: taking into account what I can. Do I want to follow him like a crazy person, playing detective, questioning his every move, counting meetings and making sure he’s working a program?


I need to do that for myself, and that’s it.

But what I can do is make sure he’s being a present member of our family and everything is functioning well within our lives. If that’s happening, there’s nothing further I need to do, besides continue on my work so I don’t look like the crazy one.

A lot of things are good for you and your self-improvement, and as I've said, not all of them will work for you at any given time and it can always change and adapt to you. The important thing is to not give up, not get frustrated that something you're doing isn't working, and keep moving forward however it fits for you.

But, to simplify things a little bit and hopefully get you going in the right direction, here is a list of 5 simple examples of how to do the work:

  1. Create clear boundaries

  2. Journal or write down your thoughts/feelings/etc

  3. Don't blame yourself for not being exactly where you want to be/"should be"

  4. Be accountable to yourself and your recovery and keep showing up for yourself (no matter how small)

  5. Noticing patterns of behavior and connecting with yourself in order to work through them/change them into healthier ones

So pick up that pen, buy that cute journal, meditate to gain focus and clarity, find a therapist or a sponsor, and dive into that pool of traits that you want to fix.

After all, that’s all you can do.

14 views0 comments


bottom of page